I can kind of relate, (as much as it's possible to relate to a comic book character), to Davan quite a bit here. I was in the Air Force when my dad died, and half a country away when my mom died. I wasn't there to say goodbye, or make amends. When my dad died, well, there was a comedy of errors surrounding how I found out. I was working mids, (midnite to 8am) on 12 - hour shifts during an exercise, (7pm to 7am). I wake up almost late, and as I'm bolting out the door, Kelly, my roomie's girlfriend, (now wife) tells me "Call your first shirt, he's left like six messages!" My thought? "WTF does HE want, I haven't pissed anyone off real bad since the last exercise"
So I get to the hangar, and people are weirding out on me. All of them walking up to me and almost crying, and saying all this shit about "Oh I'm so sorry". I'm being the clueless wonder, since thanks to my AMAZING POWERS OF ADD, I'd already forgotten about the first shirt, (First Sergeant) wanting me to call him. Finally, Brad, my roommate, realizes that:
- I have no fucking idea as to what's going on and
- I'm about to start going off on the next person crying or apologizing at me without telling me why
That was in 1991. In 1999 my mom died. That was pretty depressing. It was in July, and I hadn't been able to get her on the phone in a while. Now, this was not unusual. My mom would go for a week or two here and there and not want to talk to people. Not because she was depressed, but because she didn't want to talk to anyone. But after a month, I get worried and call the cops. I get the call back from the cops, and just in the way he asked if this was John Welch on the phone, I knew what he was gonna say. So I spared him having to talk around it.
"She's dead, isn't she"
"Yeah, yeah she is. I'm sorry to have to tell you like this."
"S'okay, it happens. Did she go peacefully?"
"From what we can tell, yep. You going to want to ID her?"
"If I don't have to, I'd really rather not that be the last way I see her"
"No problem, we're real sure it's her. You want the number to a local funeral home?"
"Yeah...yeah, that would be good. Thanks man."
"You're welcome, just part of the job."
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry it was a part of yours tonight."
"For what it's worth, I am too."
This happened three weeks before Macworld Expo in NY. I was due to speak in three sessions. My first time. It sounds callous, but suddenly, it was very important that I do that. That I be there and speak. So a week before Macworld, I'm on a plane. My Aunt and I take care of her stuff, I handled the cremation, with the help of a wickedly funny funeral home worker, who may never know how much her terribly macabre sense of humor, and jokes about ash-scatterings gone terribly, terribly wrong due to random ocean winds helped me out that day. Let's just say, that hearing "Oh shit yeah, she got a mouthful of Uncle Bob" was the funniest fucking thing I'd ever heard.
But that was it. No funerals. No eulogies really. One day I get a phone call, and I don't have a father anymore. A few years later, I'm an orphan at 32. My son never knew my dad, doesn't really remember my mom.
Other than really, really missing them here and there, mostly related to Alex, it's never been something I think about a lot. You live, you die. If you're lucky, when you die, there's someone who really misses you because they loved you.
But when I read that strip, I think I really saw, reflected oddly, and years after the fact, what it must have been like for my mom in a VA hospital, to realize that someone who had been a part of her life for almost 25 years was gone, and wasn't coming back. They weren't going to watch football together anymore. She wasn't going to be able to yell at him about eating those "damned sardines" ever again. All the stuff, fun and annoying that defined him to her was gone. I don't think I really ever understood the impact it had on her. Well maybe in one way. She loved football, but after my dad died, she never watched it again. She said, It was something that I only ever did with Tom. I don't think I even want to try watching it without him in that chair across from the couch with a can of those damned sardines in his hand.
Really nailing a moment like that under even the best of circumstances is hard. Doing it on a webcomic is astounding. Randy did it as good as I've ever seen it done. He's a fucking genius, and an utter rotter.
But in that strip, he earned every penny anyone has ever donated to him. He could quit tomorrow, and that strip would be gold. I don't think he will, but I also hope that he doesn't do another one like that for a very long time.